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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Egyptian Zen Revisited and Renewed Street Violence in Cairo: Leadership Needed

Renewed Egyptian street demonstrations in Cairo are horrible deja vu images, reflective of those broadcast in February 2011, when I wrote my blog "Egyptian Zen", now revisited.

Egyptian Zen from Februay 11, 2011 

Egypt's brave people showed extraordinary resilience during their facebook revolution, rising up against 30 years of governmental tyranny. Therefore, I hope the Egyptians will kindly accept my Zen advice knowing it is offered with extreme admiration. Zen Buddhism is not my specialty, but having watched the movie Charlie Wilson's War recently, the character played by the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman tells a story worth repeating here. His character warns Congressman Wilson about the Zen of winning a war. 

I'm adapting the story to Egypt and it goes like this: "A young Egyptian boy gets a pony for his birthday. His village is so happy, they say 'isn't this good?'. But, the father says, 'We'll see'. So, later, the boy badly damages his leg when he falls off the pony. The village people say, 'this is not a good thing'. But the father says 'We'll see'. Then, Egypt goes to war with Israel in 1972, but the boy cannot serve because of his injured leg, so the village says 'this is a good thing'. But the father says, "We'll see". At the end of the story, the outcome of Charlie Wilson's War was not what he intended when he began his Congressional deal making. His victory was short lived. .....Moral of the story being ...."we'll see".

In other words, although the Egyptian people are justifiably exalted about their recent revolution to overturn a dictator, the unintended consequences and benefits are yet to be determined. To coin a sometimes overused cliche: "Freedom is Not Free". There may be a price yet to be paid for the people's victory....

Now, fast forward to June 2013:

Huge protests across Egypt calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi have continued through the night, with sporadic outbreaks of violence.

In the capital, Cairo, tens of thousands of people have been massed in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace. They have vowed to stay on until Mr Morsi steps down.

At least one person was killed in clashes at Cairo's headquarters of the governing Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Four others died in clashes elsewhere.

Millions of protesters across the country accuse the country's first Islamist president of failing to tackle economic and security problems since taking power a year ago.

Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday saw the biggest demonstration since the 2011 revolution which ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Applying the concept of "we'll see" Egyptian Zen, what we now see is how the Arab Spring, which is the media term for the revolutionary wave of demonstrations that swept through the Middle East, has proven to be a Pandora's Box of troubles for affected nations.  Trusted leadership is needed.

When people revolt against tyranny, they need to have leaders in place to capture the momentum of their revolution.  We can look to South Africa's now gravely ill Nelson Mandela as an example.  India's Mahatma Gandi (1869-1948) was another.  Even Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro was inspired to seize the momentum of his people's revolution against the corrupt President Batista, who was overthrown.

Egyptians, Syrians and other Middle East countries struggling with their Pandora's Box of issues, unleashed by the Arab Spring, have yet to embrace an inspired leader who can move them forward.

Therefore, these Arab Spring nations will remain in a perpetual state of "Egyptian Zen" until they can see their way forward.  

There seems no end to the street violence and revolution now flooding through the Middle East like a tsunami.  

Inspired leadership is urgent.  Egypt needs leaders like the strong and iconic Pharaohs.  Otherwise, the nation where the roots of Western Civilization began, risks being absorbed by a massive dust storm and the Arab Spring will be as arid as the Sahara Desert.  

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